Veronika Ringgold at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville


In my field of research, “Stress, its Determinants, and Consequences“, the physiological stress response is what we are usually interested in. Much less attention is given to the subjective stress experience of participants in our study. One reason for this is that not a lot of instruments assess states of subjective stress and their changes, which is why researchers frequently apply measures of affect or simply ask participants how stressed they were.



In October 2021, when I started my journey as a doctoral candidate at the Chair of Health Psychology and the Machine Learning and Data Analytics Lab of FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, I advocated for a questionnaire that I had long been interested in to be translated and incorporated into our research. The result was the Short Stress State Questionnaire in German (SSSQ-G).

For the next two years, a team of psychologists (myself included) and medical engineers collected data in the EmpkinS D03 sub-project and the Virtual Reality Stroop Room (VRSR), utilizing the SSSQ-G.

In fall of 2023 I had the chance to spend a three-week research stay with Dr. Grant S. Shields and his team at the University of Arkansas.

Dr. Shields is a cognitive neuroscientist with extensive knowledge in health psychology and heads the ASCAN Lab (Arkansas’s Stress, Cognition, and Affective Neuroscience Lab) at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Dr. Shields’ main research interests are stress and cognition and he was named “Rising Star“ in 2023 by the Association of Psychological Science.

During my stay at the ASCAN Lab, I got to work with Dr. Shields on the SSSQ-G data we had collected, resulting in a joint paper, which we plan to submit soon. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to present my research on the VRSR and the EmpkinS D03 sub-project to the Department of Psychology and meet many incredible researchers. This led to further collaborations between Dr. Shields’ and D03 team members, as well as a talk about the connection of “Stress and Cognition“ held by Dr. Shields at the Health Psychology colloquium in November of 2023, to which all EmpkinS members were invited.


My research stay with Dr. Shields and his team led not “only“ to measurable success in the form of a joint paper. Additional benefits were to learn about the incredible research being done at the ASCAN lab, meeting people whose research on stress and cognition gave me new ideas and insights for our projects, and experiencing a completely different research environment.

I am incredibly grateful for this experience and can highly recommend it. Most of all, I am thankful for the people who made this possible, especially Dr. Grant Shields and my supervisors, Dr. Nicolas Rohleder and Dr. Bjoern Eskofier.